Seth Rogen Teases Mystery Penis Appearance in The Night Before

20 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Movie review: ‘The Night Before’ is a stoner Christmas movie with a heart.

In the raunchy comedy, Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie and Joseph Gordon-Levitt play longtime friends who are on their annual hunt for the ultimate Christmas party. “The Night Before” combines two weary genres — the sentimental Christmas movie and the naughty-boy comedy — as if knocking their heads together might wake them both up.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Ethan, a sad sack of sorts in his early 30s who has never gotten over deaths of his parents just before the holiday when he was 19.2015 may not bring everything that Back to the Future II promised it would: flying cars, self-lacing shoes, we don’t see ’em happening over the next 12 months. (Then again, don’t bet against Nike.) But this year will definitely pack plenty of punch when it comes to cultural happenings.There is a weirdly thick helping of gooey sentimental icing on top of this very Seth Rogen-y gingerbread bro-down, some sticky background stuff about dead parents and finding family that seems mildly heavy for a comedy with a central (and top-drawer) joke about some really impressive dick pics. But he’d like to meet the man it belongs to. “If you’re out there watching this and you know that’s your penis, reach out to me,” Rogen said. “Contact me—and congratulations because you’re working with dynamite stuff down there.

He spends every Christmas Eve with his pals Isaac (Seth Rogen) and Chris (Anthony Mackie) looking for the greatest party ever, the Nutcracka Ball, without success. Mad Max will roar back out of the apocalypse while Mad Men rides off into the sunset, rock’s Antichrist Superstar and hip-hop’s Yeezus will rise again. Each of its three protagonists—Isaac Greenberg (Seth Rogen), a lawyer; Chris Roberts (Anthony Mackie), a pro football player; and Ethan Miller (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a struggling musician—has his own little mission as they pursue, together, their collective Holy Grail: a celebrated secret party they’ve fantasized about attending for many years. Chris, an aging athlete who has renewed his career with P.E.D.s, seeks to ingratiate himself with his team’s quarterback (Aaron Hill) by procuring a load of marijuana for him. His cancer comedy 50/50 — also starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and shepherded by Rogen — was one of the few films in the Rogen nexus to actually dwell in uncomfortable darkness for stretches, and his other writing, especially The Wackness, tends to rely on sentiment to ground goofier antics.

Their holiday traditions include donning excruciatingly bad Christmas sweaters, doing profane karaoke, making like Tom Hanks in “Big” at FAO Schwarz and — this year — trying to buy pot so NFL player Chris can impress the star quarterback. It feels like a weird misstep in The Night Before, a holdover from what was originally supposed to be a much more sedate, tighter film about the ports you find in the storm of life; wrung through a handful of Rogen-affiliated writers. Green (Michael Shannon), who is a blend of Robert Parker and Danny Torrance with a touch of another movie character who’s a spoiler best unmentioned.

That premise hangs like an anvil over a sketchy, drug-fuelled romp through New York on Christmas Eve, always threatening to stamp out the antics so Gordon-Levitt can act all sad for a while. He has been her “rock” throughout, and as a reward she sends him off for the evening with a little present—a pocket-sized cornucopia of drugs, in order to signify and usher out the carefree youth to which, with fatherhood, he’s definitively saying goodbye. The excuse to set Gordon-Levitt, Rogen and Anthony Mackie loose on the city is that they’re a trio of long-time friends out for one last yuletide-flavoured hurrah. The dude-centrism of the main story — three bros embarking on one last Christmas Eve debauch, with halfhearted overtones of Dickens and “It’s a Wonderful Life” — is alleviated by the presence of Mindy Kaling and Ilana Glazer, who are funnier than anyone else in the movie, as they generally are in life. As for Ethan, whose life is falling apart, the sex and drugs of the party are the very point—at least until he runs into his ex-girlfriend, Diana (Lizzy Caplan), and does his best to get back together with her.

The sad backstory is that it’s a tradition that started after Gordon-Levitt’s parents died, and though he clings to it as both a ritual and a high-point in his emotionally arrested life, his friends are moving on, Rogen with a family and Mackie with a burgeoning career as a football player. Under the conflicting influences of its contents, he unleashes his pent-up fears and resentments about fatherhood, flings away the circumspect reserve of family and professional responsibility, reveals a strain of latent bromosexuality, and—as a Jewish man who is married to a Christian woman—vents the cultural anxieties of that papered-over difference. He himself is given a box full of drugs by his wife, and his battles to balance out mushrooms with cocaine (and ecstasy and pot and…) are the movie’s funniest bits. It’s where his comic inventiveness rises to a peak of extravagance, and it’s hammered home by way of the sweater that he wears through most of the film (a present from Ethan), which is adorned with one gigantic Star of David among lots of smaller ones. “The Night Before”—directed by Jonathan Levine, who wrote the story and also co-wrote the script with Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, and Evan Goldberg—is yet another bromance, but its women have anxieties, too, notably Betsy’s single friend Sarah (Mindy Kaling), who turns up at the bar along with Diana and finds Isaac spoiling her best-laid plans. He’s funny enough just trying to act normal while bug-eyed and twitching, but his best moment comes when those aforementioned dick pics arrive (he accidentally switched phones).

It prompts a weird but hilarious combination of drug ramblings and a sincere commitment to having a wild night, which pays off in a major way before the end. The absolute normalcy of marijuana sits alongside the more daring pleasures of mushrooms and cocaine, though the story also shows that these pleasures pack inescapable inconveniences and hints at the risk of casual pleasures veering into degradations. Without slipping into moralizing, the movie suggests that Isaac’s adventure is innocuous, even therapeutic, precisely because it’s exceptional, a one-night-only off-ramp from his new and better life.

Green projects, in Shannon’s exquisite comic turn, is solely a function of the unfortunate illegality of his life’s work—put him in the daylight and he’s the friendly owner of a wine shop.) Yet that new normalcy is also a reflection of the Hollywood bubble, the assumption that, in the case of the kinds of mishaps that occur throughout the movie, such as car crashes and fistfights, having drugs would be no big deal if the police came by, and that if things went from bad to worse a confession and a stay in rehab would do the trick.

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